Two‐Dimensional Versus Three‐Dimensional Pictorial Organization

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (2):149-157 (2015)
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I want to differentiate between two very different ways of organizing pictorial elements at a very abstract level: (2D) two-dimensionally: pictorial elements are organized and grouped according to their outline shape on the picture surface and (3D) three-dimensionally: pictorial elements are organized and grouped according to their position in the depicted space. Suppose you need to depict seven identical spheres. On the most general level, there are two ways of doing this: you can arrange the seven spheres in space and then choose a vantage point in this space from which you want to depict them. Or you can arrange seven circles (the outline shapes of the seven spheres) on the two-dimensional surface of the picture. The former method is an instance of three-dimensional pictorial organization, whereas the latter one is an instance of two-dimensional pictorial organization.

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Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp


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